Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Baby Woodpecker sees off parakeet

The first young greater spotted woodpecker in the garden this year

This youngster seemed a bit confused at first and not at all nervous of me. Its flight was somewhat erratic but once it found the peanuts it gained confidence. Its parents were still busy carrying peanuts off to the branch of a tall tree so perhaps they're feeding another youngster.

An unlikely pair of adversaries

I was amazed to see this youngster outface the parakeet. The parakeet kept threatening the young woodpecker, which in turn, would flap its wings and lunge back. To my surprise, the woodpecker was the victor.

This parakeet knows no fear

We can almost touch this particular individual, it seems quite unperturbed by our presence. So much so, in fact, that it gives me a fright quite regularly, by taking flight just as I walk by. I'm so used to seeing these birds in the garden that I hardly notice them.

Just as the sun was going behind a cloud the grebes performed a brief courtship ritual

While we were sitting on the outside deck having dinner a pair of crested grebes floated by and did a brief courtship dance right in front of us. Unfortunately, the sun went behind a cloud almost immediately and the light was too low to take more pictures. It's wonderful to watch grebes courting. They extend their crests and make flicking movements with their heads.

Today I had the joy of seeing my first baby grebe of the season, tucked behind the wings of its mother while the adult male presented it with the tiniest of fish.

Crested grebe in summer plumage

Male mandarin duck going into winter plumage (eclipse)

When in breeding plumage the vibrant colours of the male mandarin duck are a work of art. As they go into eclipse (moult) they gradually lose their finery and eventually look like their female counterparts. This one still has ginger whiskers . . . just!

Bidou takes time to relax after a snack

They cygnets tuck into wheat

The mute swans bring their cygnets round at least twice a day and spend some twenty minutes enjoying the wheat and churning up the water to release nutrients for them all. They also graze for weed and gravel, holding their necks under water for a surprisingly long time. Since lead fishing weights were banned we've seen fewer deaths from lead poisoning but their are still some old submerged weights and, occasionally, an unlucky swan swallows one and dies a slow and painful death.

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